Category Archives: Denomination

Advice from retiring leader of UM Archives and History

The Rev. Robert Williams is retiring after nine years as the top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History at Drew University in Madison, N.J. Williams observations on UM history:

Don’t reduce the teachings of John Wesley to misused and misattributed quotations that begin with “Do all the good you can.” More important, he points out, are Wesley’s words on salvation, holy living and caring about the least.

Don’t forget about Philip Otterbein and Jacob Albright, founders of what became the Evangelical United Brethren Church, which merged with Methodists to form the United Methodist Church in 1968. “I know those of the EUB heritage think we’re always talking too much about Wesley,” he says.

Keep the memory of African-American Methodism alive. A concern about losing that part of history led to the establishment of the African-American Methodist Heritage Center. Williams also believes, for historical reasons, that the U.S. church’s jurisdictional system should be eliminated. “It was created so the African-American conferences would be segregated into a separate structure,” he says.

Remember the various ways that culture and Christianity have interfaced in the past. In the early 19th century, for example, the U.S. church “didn’t buy into the cultural standards of its day,” Williams noted. By the end of that century, however, American Methodism was taking on trappings “of being the most American church,” as Methodist Bishop Matthew Simpson’s influential friendship with President Abraham Lincoln demonstrated.

History is connecting factor for Bob Williams – UM News Service

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Happy John Wesley Day

John Wesley was born on June 17, 1703, while England was still using the Julian calendar. England adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752 and thus Wesley’s birth date became June 28. Here is a story about Wesley’s birthday reflections.

UM News: Marking John Wesley’s birthday in his words


UM Archive provides Methodist Timeline

The United Methodist Church General Commission on Archives and History provides this United Methodist Church Timeline.

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The Methodist Way

The General Board of Discipleship has an article on the Methodist Way.


Methodism began as a movement of spiritual renewal within a national church marked by much nominal commitment and spiritual lethargy. Early Methodists adopted a Way of living in covenant with Christ and one another that yielded rich spiritual fruit in their lives and in their engagement with the world. One result of this vitality was the emergence of Methodism as a distinct tradition and its growth in North America into a family of denominations.


The article goes on to further describe the Methodist Way and what it would mean to renew the Methodist Way in United Methodist congregations today.

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UMC provides history of Methodism

The United Methodist website offers a history of the denomination in the U.S. that dates back to 1736 when the Wesley brothers arrived in Savannah, Georgia as missionaries to the British colony.

Both John and Charles were Church of England missionaries to the colony of Georgia, arriving in March 1736. It was their only occasion to visit America. Their mission was far from an unqualified success, and both returned to England disillusioned and discouraged, Charles in December 1736, and John in February 1738.

The UMC history Who We Are traces the denomination through seven stages up to the present day.

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UM GBGM offers Wesley documents online

The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries offers a number of primary and secondary Wesley documents online. GBGM provides a library of public domain Wesley images at the site, too.

The documents include 141 sermons, A Short History of Methodism, Questions and Answers about Christian Perfection and Collection of Hymns.

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UM Board of Discipleship video on touring Wesley sites

General Board of Discipleship plans July travels to Wesley historic sites. Excellent video with young Methodists leaders who toured the sites.